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Bloody Important – Less is More

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Bloody Important is a recurring series about the oft-overlooked, occasionally even ignored, medical aspect of the responsible armed citizen or LEO's training. Carry something intended to put holes in people? Think there might be a chance someone could try to put holes in you? Best be prepared to plug them.

Today's installment of Bloody Important comes to you courtesy of Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis, co-founder and lead instructor of Dark Angel Medical.

Bloody Important – Less is More

A Sponsored Disquisition by Kerry Davis

We’ve all heard the aphorism before, but what does it really mean? How can less actually be more? That’s like saying $1 is more than $10, isn’t it? From a financial perspective it doesn't make sense, but in the context of your gear — more specifically, medical kits — it makes all the sense in the world. Time is life, less is more.

Many of you reading this have a big plastic bin of nylon gear your spouse keeps telling you to get rid of, but you refuse to do so because you might “need it someday.” Right. Me, too. Guilty as charged. Why do we have all of that stuff?

In many cases it was purchased because it was “cool”, especially if it was in MultiCam (which, to be fair, is literally the sexiest pattern on this or any other planet). At least one piece of that gear, maybe more, is likely something with far either far more or far less capacity. In the former case, what's the common reaction? “Oh, I can put more stuff in there!” Then, when looking for the one thing you need, that you know is in there, you can't find it. All the other stuff you packed because you had the room for it is in the way.

Ask an experienced soldier or NCO what young Joes and Janes will do with additional load capacity? If you give it to them, they'll fill it. Most of us are the same way, but that tendency can get you killed.

Let's look at a dedicated trauma kit. The less you have in the kit, the easier it is to locate what you need, when you need it. Face it, if you need to open your trauma kit, you really need to open your trauma kit, and time is of the essence.

Don't overpack it. Know the difference between trauma kit and boo boo kit.


“Hunting season is here! How long do you think it would take a first responder to arrive at your favorite hunting location? Probably much longer than the 10 minute average for populated areas. Prepare for worst. Hope for the best. It's better to have a med kit on you and not need it, than to need a med kit and not have one. The DARK in Hi Vis Orange is the perfect kit for hunting. It comes with everything you need, and nothing you don't.”

A trauma kit has a very specific purpose. It is intended to treat injuries that threaten life, limb or eyesight.

That's it.

If your trauma kit goes beyond that, it’s not a trauma kit. A proper trauma kit should be as genuinely minimalist as possible. In it you should have a proven tourniquet, nitrile gloves, hemostatic gauze, pressure bandage and occlusive dressings. If there is anything else in your kit, you need take a hard look at it.

Let’s break down the bare minimum items

  • Tourniquet — When we say “proven”, we mean one that has a proven track record, with scientific studies and data behind it.
  • Nitrile gloves — Thick and non-allergenic, they'll protect you from cooties.
  • Hemostatic gauze — Hemostatic impregnated gauze is a much more effective way to control a life-threatening bleed than granules or sponges. It provides a much more reliable delivery of the product directly to the source of the bleed. Granular hemostatics, unless utilized correctly, can and will wash out of a high pressure, high volume bleed.
  • Pressure bandage — This is needed to secure hemostatic gauze in place.
  • Occlusive dressings — This is for any injury that has potentially penetrated the thoracic cavity.

If you were to add anything else, it would need to be something like a chest decompression needle (provided it’s in your legal scope of practice), nasal airway, mylar blanket, extra gauze, or an eye shield. While that’s definitely adding a few items to your total kit, they do have a legitimate trauma related purpose, and they don’t take up a lot of room.

Any kit should be compact and easy to use, hence the Dark Angel tagline, Simplicity Under Stress.

Whether you choose to buy one of our kits, someone else’s kit or you “roll your own”, buy your gear from reputable dealers with real-world trauma experience. Don't get it off eBay or the “We’re Gonna Make a Med Kit, Too, Inc.” website. Going directly to an experienced source should help get you the good kit you need, not what looks cool or sounds like a nifty idea. You're going to spend some money.

Good kit isn’t inexpensive, but neither is your life.

Keep it pared down; do away with the clutter. Sunscreen, suture kits, lip balm and ammonia amps have no place in a trauma kit and will only cause confusion at a time when you cannot afford it.

Sure, big med kit sure does have a lot of stuff in it and it looks cool, but just remember: if you're talking time is life, less is more.

Bloody Important - Less Is More 4

“One of our recent students, from earlier this year, responded to a severe car accident, in which six people were involved. He was able to stop and control two large bleeds on two of the victims, allowing enough time for first responders to arrive at the scene. Unfortunately, out of the six victims, two were unable to make it. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and everyone involved. Full story here.” Dark Angel Medical
Cover photo from Mighty Optical Illusions.

Why is medical training so Bloody Important? Even the American Medical Association thinks you should know how to use a tourniquet and stop bleeding. Think about it, and be honest — what are you more likely to use in your everyday life? Will it be your tricked out, stipple-gripped, laser etched Gucciblaster with the Kung-Fu Magwell? Or will it be the IFAK in your glove box and pressure dressing you (thankfully) remembered to throw in your back pocket? Wondering why you should be carrying something? Here's why right here. Some information about wounds and injuries from mass shootings here.

Dark Angel Medical is headquartered in the formerly free state of Colorado. They can found online here; locate their training schedule and secure a slot in class right here. Dark Angel produces the Direct Action Response Kit (D.A.R.K., now on Gen. 4), the D.A.R.K. Lite trauma kit, the Pocket D.A.R.K. individual trauma kit, the larger scale St. Mike Trauma Kit, and many other trauma kits. They even have a low profile IFAK for your K9.

Dark Angel Medical can be found both on Facebook (DarkAngelMedical) and on Instagram, @darkangelmedical. Co-Founder and lead instructor Kerry Davis has been channeling Johnny Cage and Roy DeSoto for over a quarter century. He is a former flight medic with a decade and a half's service turned paramedic, then critical care and Emergency Room RN (Registered Nurse). In addition to his work for Dark Angel, he teaches periodically for the Sig Academy and Magpul Dynamics. Subscribe to them on YouTube, follow them on Pinterest or stalk them on Twitter (@Dark_Angel_Medical) as you prefer. Davis frequently appears on Trigger Time TV both as a host and a Subject Matter Expert, and also occasionally weighs in on Practically Tactical.


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